Influencer marketing has been a huge trend in digital for the last several years. Gone are the days of the blanket celebrity endorsement. Reaching consumers – Millennials and Gen Z in particular – is all about connecting with the social media influencers they care about. Some of these are traditional celebrities, like Kim Kardashian, but others are beauty bloggers, YouTubers, and even adorable pets.
One of the reasons influencer marketing is so successful is how much trust consumers have in them. In fact, when it comes to decisions on what to buy, people trust influencers 94% more than their own friends and family. With a number like that, it’s easy to see why so many brands are using influencers to market and sell their products.
Like all trends, influencer marketing changes and adapts as more people buy into it. As more and more brands are looking to leverage influencers, there is a shift from big names to smaller, micro-influencers. Not only does working with smaller influencers allow brands to do less with more, it also helps them get deeper access to more niche markets, in which macro-influencers may not have the same clout.
Identifying micro-influencers can be trickier than larger-name influencers. One of the key differentiators is audience size. While influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk may have millions of followers, micro-influencers average less than 100,000. A typical female millennial influencer has around 8,000 Instagram followers and 600 Twitter followers. They use social media to not only connect with friends, but also to inform purchase decisions and share products they like.
When looking for brand influencers, there are more factors you should pinpoint aside from follower size and engagement. First, you should look at brand loyalists. Social media users already sharing about your product are much more likely to engage as influencers and are likely in your target demographic.
Once you identify potential influencers, you want to take a look at their audience and see if they are a good fit. Tools like People Pattern or even native analytics tools can give a breakdown of audience demographics. Because micro-influencers allow for a more niche-d marketing approach, you want to understand exactly who they can reach to ensure they are your target audience.
You should also look beyond Instagram. Know where your audience spends their time on social media. Millennial women spend time on Instagram and Pinterest, while Gen Xers, especially men, spend their social media time on Facebook and YouTube. Understanding where your audience lives online will help you choose the right person to help further your brand initiatives.
After you’ve decided on a potential influencer, audit their feeds. Are they posting things that your customers would enjoy? Does their personal brand mesh with your company’s values and mission? This person will be a direct reflection of your company, as well as an introduction to you and your products. You want your brands to align.
Once you identify your micro-influencers, there are a few best practices you’ll want to follow:
- Track everything. Using tracking codes in Google Analytics can help you see where traffic is coming from. This is especially important if engaging more than one influencer or using branded social media channels as a potential referrer.
- Give influencers some creative freedom. While you should provide brand guidelines and required messaging, give influencers the flexibility to create the type of content that fits within their personal brand. They know what works best for their audience.
- Follow any legal guidelines enforced by your industry and the FTC. You don’t want to get in hot water for breaking consumer advertising laws. This can be as simple as requiring disclosure hashtags or enabling a “promotion” feature on channels that offer one.
- Engage in the campaign. Whether it is commenting on a post, retweeting, or linking to it, amplifying the content used by micro-influencers makes your brand seem friendly and offers a level of support and authenticity to the campaign.
- Remember that micro-influencers are just everyday people living their lives. Working with them is different than working with the media or traditional influencers who have training or trained representatives that understand fair compensation and marketing ethics. Be sure to not only treat them fairly and ethically but also to understand there may be some initial hand-holding.
Now that you have the lowdown on one of 2018’s biggest marketing trends, start engaging and building relationships with influencers for your brand.
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